Friday, July 28, 2017

The Tale of Socializing Petey

One of the most important things we can do with a new puppy, I learned, is to socialize him. And I nearly broke into a cold sweat when I read that the age a pup needs to be socialized is from about 3 weeks until 16 weeks, and after that the window is shut, permanently. Oh my gosh!  What if I blow it. Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right?

I'm cute, right? Why do I need anything else?
If we expose our puppies during this time to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, people and other dogs, we can help them learn not to be fearful or anxious when faced with something new.
Well-socialized dogs are less likely to react with fear or aggression. I must admit I think often about what Petey's temperament will be like when he's older. Sure, he's adorable now, and funny and sweet and playful. But what about when he is a puppy adolescent? And adult? I feel a huge responsibility to do everything I can to help ensure Petey is a friendly and happy and well behaved dog, and one who gets along with Ernest too. We've been adopting senior dogs, who come to us pretty much as they are (and as a side note, I've been amazed that after all they've gone through, they're almost always well behaved and loving,). A puppy is different. We play a significant role in his developmental process. Oh Petey, the pressure!

So we've enrolled him in puppy manners class, a kind of puppy Kindergarten. (More about that in future posts.) There are also puppy playgroups where the pups can learn to interact in a safe, supervised environment. And then there's the socializing. We walk Ernest and Petey in our urban neighborhood a couple times a day. Because of this, Petey is exposed to cats, squirrels, dogs, people, children, buses, birds, cars whizzing by, sirens, fallen crab apples, puddles, sewer grates, trash cans, motorcycles, blowing leaves, garbage trucks and more. With Ernest's gentle lead, Petey trots along confidently.

Side by side. Ernest is a good calming presence.
We also take him out almost every day. To Great-grandma's. To friend's houses. To parks. And sometimes he gets to help me do the shopping. Wheeling him around in a cart at the pet food store, we attract many other shoppers who squeal at his puppiness and can't resist patting him. I welcome their attention, because they're helping me socialize him. Petey enjoys the outing because I usually can't resist letting him pick out a toy.

I like shopping with Mom.

Socialize-schmocialize. Let me at these toys!
Pretty soon Petey will be entering the next stage of puppyhood.
We'll get through it together.


  1. Mom did all that. Good tips. Now that I am 10, mom said I turned into a grumpy senior citizen
    Lily & Edward

  2. You are not grumpy, you have character. You earned it.

  3. Thinking of cool things to do during Honey's socialization period was my favorite part of raising a puppy. I think that her gentle exposure to spring thunderstorms was a big boost.

    We also took her to big dog events--an agility competition, a pet expo, and a dog show. It's a great way to teach a puppy that sometimes other dogs are working and can't be bothered with playing.

    Sounds like you're doing great. Petey is very lucky to have you raising him.

    1. Those are all great ideas. The first few times we went out walking Pete shied at the noises but now he's a big boy and is confident. We haven't had a loud storm yet.

  4. Petey is just adorable. just be careful with viruses and other animals that may not be vaccinated. and if the flu virus is in your area. when i take my girls places, wipe my shoes, their feet, etc b4 we get in the car to come home. i use antibacterial wipes or sprays. my dog breeder did this at the dog shows. we had to wipe our feet b4 we came back to the rv area. the dogs were carried after being washed or if they walked their feet were wiped as well. does Petey really pick out his toys or do you show him the toys you think he would like. Petey also learns by Ernest as well.

    1. That's a good point about his feet. I will do that. We brought our own blanket and put it in the shopping cart too. But someone still insisted on coming up to us with their barely 7 week old puppy and held him nose to nose with Pete. I really picked out his toys but let him think he did! And yes Ernest is such a big benefit to raising him!

  5. Petey at the store = me in real life. I think we'd get along just fine. Haha


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